When a multiplayer game is successful, it tends to be incredibly successful. From Counter-Strike and Call of Duty to Halo and Fortnite, some of the biggest gaming phenomena of all-time have involved playing with other people in some capacity. Indeed, it’s often that communal experience that elevates multiplayer games and turns them into a sensation.
The overwhelming success of some multiplayer games can lead to some animosity from gamers who just aren’t that into them or feel that they hinder a developer’s enthusiasm to pursue other types of projects. However, we bet that many people’s best video game memories are tied to the joy of playing a game with someone else, whether it be together on a couch or online.
For some of those gamers, the multiplayer experience they so fondly remember wasn’t one that turned out to be a global phenomenon. There are so many multiplayer games out there that sometimes it’s a simple matter of probability that some of them will not make it. Other times, a multiplayer game was just too ahead of its time, too weird, too niche, or otherwise attached to a single-player campaign that just didn’t make it.
There are many reasons why a cooperative or competitive multiplayer experience might fly under the radar, but the one thing that the most underappreciated multiplayer games have in common is the passion they inspire among those who actually had the chance to experience them.
These are 50 of the most underrated multiplayer games ever made:
50. Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins may be an unrefined spin-off of the Arkham series, but this game’s negative legacy isn’t entirely justified. Origins is just a solid entry into an otherwise exceptional franchise. Besides, this is the only game that has ever come close to justifying the idea of competitive Batman multiplayer.
Origins multiplayer mode sees two teams of thugs (representing The Joker and Bane) compete in a shooter-style battle for supremacy. All the while, a player controlling Batman (or players controlling Batman and Robin) prowl the map and try to intimidate and take out the thugs via traditional Arkham gameplay.
This mode does a brilliant job of incorporating Batman into a competitive gaming experience without making you feel like you need to play as Batman to have a good time. Unfortunately, few people ever actually played this game’s multiplayer and Origin’s online functionality was formally shut down some time ago.
49. Doom (2016)
Doom’s multiplayer beta is infamous for all the wrong reasons. In fact, some people believe that the developers released the game’s “bad” multiplayer first in order to lower our expectations just enough to ensure that Doom’s brilliant campaign would blow everyone away.
This multiplayer mode’s awful debut ensured that most Doom owners never touched it again, but those who braved month’s of mediocrity were eventually rewarded with something rather interesting. A series of updates eventually turned Doom’s multiplayer mode into a more than competent deathmatch experience that falls somewhere between Quake III and Halo 5.
Yes, Doom’s multiplayer probably just should have been a quality arena shooter from the start, but we can’t help but feel a little disappointed that this game’s multiplayer community pretty much died just when things were getting good.
48. Monday Night Combat
At first glance, Monday Night Combat looks like a flash game quality rip-off of team-based shooters like Overwatch and Team Fortress 2. Get past the meme marketing materials, though, and you’ll find a competitive shooter with an identity of its own.
Monday Night Combat’s blend of third-person deathmatch action and MOBA-esque strategies is satisfying, but the true star of this experience is its almost Running Man-like game show atmosphere. It’s rare that you find such a rich competitive game that is wrapped in a fundamentally fun atmosphere.
Sadly, as is the case with most of the games on this list, Monday Night Combat’s community isn’t nearly as large as it should be. It’s incredibly hard to find people to play with unless you do your own matchmaking.
47. Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition
We’re a little torn about whether or not this mode is underrated or rightfully overlooked. On the one hand, there are many reasons why you’ve never heard of Deus Ex’s multiplayer mode. It’s clunky, it was only included in the title’s game of the year edition, and it features some bizarre arena deathmatch elements that border on parody.
However, Deus Ex’s multiplayer is nothing if not fascinating. The game’s best competitive modes utilized single-player elements like augments and hacking to add just enough role-playing to the deathmatch fray.
For a concept that was likely only ever developed so that someone could add another feature to the Deus Ex GOTY box, this game’s multiplayer came surprisingly close to getting it right.
We are well-aware that LawBreakers is one of the most infamous commercial failures in recent video game history. However, commercial success isn’t always a good indication of artistic merit. There’s a reason why the Academy Awards aren’t based on CinemaScore ratings.
Not many people played LawBreakers, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a fun game. It flew a little too close to the sun by trying to blend the best of class-based multiplayer with arena shooters, but the average LawBreakers match is surprisingly chaotic and, at worst, showcases the potential of this concept.
If LawBreakers had been released a little earlier and were a little more refined, it might just have found the audience it needed to survive.
45. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is arguably the franchise’s finest hour. Along with perfecting the refined Assassin’s Creed gameplay that made Assassin’s Creed II such a hit, Brotherhood introduced a multiplayer mode that remains one of the most inventive and enjoyable competitive experiences in modern video game history.
Brotherhood’s multiplayer sees each player assume the role of an assassin who is tasked with killing another player’s assassin. The catch is that nobody ever knows which player is currently trying to kill them. That element of mystery and the game’s various evasion options result in a multiplayer experience that successfully emulates the spirit of the single-player game.
While Brotherhood’s multiplayer mode was replicated – and improved – in Revelations, Assassin’s Creed III, and Black Flag, it seems that Ubisoft has since elected to abandon this concept entirely. Here’s hoping the studio finds a way to resurrect this incredible experience.
44. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
While Transformers never really got a video game adaptation worth remembering when the original show was at its popularity peak in the ‘80s, recent years have featured a shocking amount of quality Transformers game. While we personally prefer developer PlatinumGames’ take on the series, there is no Transformers game that bests Fall of Cybertron’s multiplayer.
Not only does Fall of Cybertron’s multiplayer let you create your own Transformer – which is the kind of thing we nerd out about more than we’re comfortable admitting – but the game’s third-person shooting and transform-based vehicular combat offers the kind of simplistic joys you don’t always get from serious competitive games.
We could only dream of a good multiplayer Transformers game when we were kids, and it’s a shame that Fall of Cybertron didn’t get enough credit for offering that experience.
43. Dead Space 2
While we’re always intrigued by the idea of multiplayer in a horror game (more on that later) the fact of the matter is that it rarely works. How can you possibly replicate the isolation of a horror adventure when you’re surrounded by other players?
Dead Space 2 offers a fascinating solution to that problem. While this is hardly the first multiplayer game to have some players play as humans and other players control monsters, it’s hard to think of many games that utilize that concept better than Dead Space 2.
This multiplayer mode’s various objectives and surprisingly deep strategic options result in nearly every multiplayer match feeling different than any match you’ve played in the past. Indeed, there are few moments in the Dead Space series more terrifying than facing off against a team of coordinated Necromorphs.
42. Star Wars Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy
Jedi Academy’s campaign was ultimately somewhat disappointing. It just lacked the heart of Jedi Outcast’s compelling narrative. However, Jedi Academy did feature what may be the best multiplayer that’s ever been featured in a Star Wars game.
Jedi Academy’s lightsaber multiplayer battles aren’t unique – Jedi Outcast featured a similar system – but the game’s refined controls result in the absolute best Jedi vs. Jedi multiplayer that the gaming world had seen up to that point.
In fact, Jedi Academy’s brilliant multiplayer lightsaber duels may never be bested. The tragedy of it all is that Jedi Academy’s multiplayer is only accessible through heavily modified custom servers, and we doubt anyone is going to remaster this game any time soon.
41. BioShock 2
The collective groan that gamers bellowed when it was first announced that BioShock 2 would feature multiplayer can be heard to this day. It’s impossible to blame the cynics in this instance. The idea of adding multiplayer to a game infamous for its atmosphere and social statements is the kind of evil corporate plan typically reserved for Captain Planet villains.
However, much like the campaign itself, BioShock 2’s multiplayer featured enough new concepts to more than justify its existence. BioShock’s plasmid and shooter gameplay translated surprisingly well to the multiplayer arena, and the ability to become a Big Daddy in certain modes added an entertaining – and necessary – wrinkle to the proceedings.
Everyone thought BioShock 2 multiplayer was going to be a tacked-on experience that nobody would play. It turned out to be a surprisingly solid multiplayer experience that nobody played.
40. Battlefield Vietnam
Battlefield Vietnam doesn’t have as sterling a reputation as some of the other Battlefield games of its era. While that is partially due to the game’s somewhat controversial setting, it has more to do with the title’s various glitches that were lazily carried over from previous installments.
Still, there are some who consider Vietnam’s multiplayer to be the series’ finest hour. The Vietnam time period is modern enough to encourage a variety of tactics, but not so modern that it demands the incorporation of powerful tools and weapons. The game’s use of licensed music in multiplayer vehicles is also a feature that should have never gone away.
Maybe we’ll finally get the Vietnam sequel fans have been clamoring for, but we don’t know if a modern title can replicate the magic of the original.
39. Resident Evil Outbreak
Resident Evil Outbreak remains a black sheep in a franchise that is no stranger to games that fans choose not to remember. Outbreak tried to offer a cooperative online Resident Evil experience at a time when online console gaming was barely functional. It certainly didn’t help that the game was released in the United States and Europe the same year as Resident Evil 4.
Years later, though, it’s hard not to appreciate how brilliant this game was. Its controls are the best of the “tank” era of Resident Evil, its various character types forced players to carefully consider their strategies, and the stories of the various scenarios actually fill in some canonical gaps in the series.
If you were lucky enough to overcome Outbreak’s various technical issues and actually play the game, you likely harbor some strangely fond memories of this inventive concept.
38. James Bond 007: Nightfire
If you’re a Bond multiplayer game that isn’t GoldenEye 007, you’re always going to be the other brother, the strange cousin, or even the child that gets locked in the attic and fed a steady diet of fish heads. The shame of it is that there are some multiplayer Bond games that are functionally far superior to that N64 classic.
Near the top of that list is Nightfire. James Bond 007: Nightfire took the best of GoldenEye multiplayer – the familiar characters, the split-screen options, the accessibility – and added a control scheme that is actually functional.
The result is a game that often plays fairly close to how you’d like to remember GoldenEye 007played. If that’s not good enough, we can also recommend GoldenEye: Source, a brilliant modern re-imagining of that infamous shooter.
37. Tomb Raider (2013)
The reveal of Tomb Raider’s multiplayer was met with so much indifference that the game’s developers conducted interviews designed to justify the competitive option’s existence. Nobody felt they needed a Tomb Raider multiplayer game.
We really do wish that more people gave this mode a shot, though, because it was downright clever. Tomb Raider pitted two groups of players with slightly different skills (survivors and Solari) against each other across a variety of gameplay modes. While most games task you with killing other players, Tomb Raider placed a unique emphasis on traversal. Often times, the best players were also the most evasive ones. The game’s brilliant traps – one of which could call down a bolt of lightning to kill players – added an additional layer of danger to every level.
Uncharted’s multiplayer mode might get all the love for being surprisingly fun, but Tomb Raider featured a much more interesting and well-rounded competitive experience.
36. Fable III
Even those who remember Fable fondly will tell you that the series never fully-realized its own potential. So many of the series’ concepts just never worked as well as they should have.
We suppose you could say the same of Fable 3’s co-op mode, but there is something endearing about that multiplayer experience that goes beyond nostalgia. Fable 3 allowed for a surprising degree of co-op freedom for such a large game, and the title’s more generic elements – mostly its combat – were certainly enhanced by the presence of a friend.
Few other RPGs of this size have ever even tried to incorporate a co-op mode, which makes it that much more impressive that Fable 3 came so close to truly letting you experience an epic adventure with a friend.
35. Super Monkey Ball 2
First off, all gamers in the world owe it to themselves to play a Super Monkey Ball game at some point. There’s no other series that offers Super Monkey Ball’s blend of speed, puzzles, and strangely addictive mechanical precision.
Despite the series’ standing as a cult classic, nobody really ever talks about Super Monkey Ball 2’s brilliant multiplayer options. From Monkey Bowling to Monkey Dogfight, this sequel re-imagines several popular multiplayer modes within the context of Super Monkey Ball’s strange level manipulation gameplay.
The variety of options featured in this game’s multiplayer is impressive enough, but what’s truly amazing is how well many of the modes work.
34. Tron 2.0
The brilliance of Tron 2.0 has sadly been lost to time. This Monolith developed shooter revisited the Tron universe at a time when the original Tron film was still a bizarre cult classic. To be honest, it’s still a better sequel to the original film than 2010’s Tron: Legacy.
Its multiplayer is also surprisingly good. Granted, the game’s deathmatch mode didn’t have people abandoning the most popular shooters of its time, but Tron 2.0’s fun array of weapons and stunning visual design kept matches feeling fresh.
Besides, Tron 2.0’s multiplayer was all about those epic light cycle battles that finally let film fans recreate the 1982 movie’s most iconic moment. It’s a shame that the only thing that comes close to replicating the thrill of those battles is an unlicensed homage in GTA Online.
33. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
The original TimeSplitters was not only one for the best games of the PS2’s early days, but considering that it was made by many of the people who worked on GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, many thought of it as the true successor to the revolutionary multiplayer featured in those N64 games.
However, it’s Future Perfect that…err…perfected TimeSplitters multiplayer. While it’s not as historically noteworthy as the original or quite as beloved as TimeSplitters 2, Future Perfect’s expanded mapmaker mode and online multiplayer options meant that you had more ways than ever to enjoy this generally underrated series. Of course, there’s almost no good way to play the game today unless you get the gang together for a split-screen party.
32. Capsule Force
Capsule Force is likely the most obscure game on this list. Released in 2015, this indie title flew under just about everyone’s radar. Even worse, the game’s lack of online multiplayer options and CPU opponents meant that even those who bought it barely got to play it.
However, if you manage to get four people to sit down with this game, you will experience something magical. Capsule Force requires you to move a platform to your side of the level by standing on it. Of course, your opponents are trying to do the same while everyone is shooting at each other to knock their enemies off their respective positions.
This simple setup works because it almost always results in nail-biting matches. Very few Capsule Force games don’t come down to the wire. If you can find the people to play this game with, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.
31. Shadowrun (2007)
It’s hard to think of another big budget game that was destined to fail quite like Shadowrun for Xbox 360. As the multiplayer-only follow-up to one of the most beloved cyberpunk RPGs ever made, Shadowrun was released in 2007 to an openly hostile market.
Those that took a chance on the game, though, discovered a title that was so much more than an affront to the Shadowrun name. By combining the team-based tactics of Counter-Strike with light RPG elements and more traditional deathmatch modes, Shadowrun 2007 offered a compelling genre cocktail that clearly could have become something that stood tall on its own.
Sadly, developer FASA Interactive went out of business just months after the game’s release and whatever chance Shadowrun had to find an audience simply vanished soon thereafter.
To be honest, both Starhawk and its spiritual predecessor Warhawk are worthy of entries on this list. However, the nod goes to this 2012 sci-fi title that improved many of the aspects that made Warhawk one of the PS3’s most notable multiplayer exclusives.
Starhawk’s chaotic 32-player battles did a remarkable job of making you feel like you had just been dropped into the middle of a copyright-friendly major sci-fi battle. There are few other games that do a better job of balancing vehicle and on-foot combat in an objective-based setting.
While Starhawk’s legacy is tied to the memories of a pretty specific group of gamers, it deserves to be remembered as one of the most exciting multiplayer games of its generation.
29. Max Payne 3
As you’ll discover by the time that you finish reading this list, Rockstar is a generally underrated maker of fine multiplayer experiences. Their multiplayer modes may not always steal the show, but they’re almost always worth the price of admission.
For instance, Max Payne 3’s controversial single-player mode may have left players debating whether it lived up to the first two games, but those who played the Max Payne 3’s multiplayer simply enjoyed themselves. The mode’s brilliant use of a proximity-based bullet-time system was much more polished than such an ambitious concept should have been, and the game’s already fantastic shooting mechanics were tailor-made for a third-person competitive shooter.
Max Payne 3’s multiplayer could have just been a way to justify charging $60 for an 8-hour single-player game. Instead, it proved to be an experience that is worthy of a follow-up.
Otherwise known as “Oh yeah, that game,” Brink was a multiplayer shooter developed by Splash Damage (more on this studio later) that was hyped up quite a bit before its 2011 release and then just kind of disappeared from the public consciousness.
Brink wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but it was loaded with good ideas. The game placed a somewhat surprising emphasis on teamwork, featured some fun modes, and utilized a fascinating parkour system that really opened up some interesting strategies.
Ultimately, Brink was one of those games that probably could have become something much greater had it been given enough time to receive some fixes as player feedback rolled in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t afforded the chance that many modern games enjoy.
Upon its 2013 release, Sportsfriends drew the most attention from those who were fascinated by the Johann Sebastion Joust minigame and the way it used the otherwise largely useless PlayStation Move accessory. Beyond that, the game fizzled out rather quickly.
However, it’s the other games included in the Sportsfriends package that make it easy to recommend buying this game to this day. Super Pole Riders, BaraBariBall, and Hokra may feature super simple graphics and mechanics, but they are among the most addictive and compelling party games released in recent memory. Truth be told, BaraBariBall deserved to be expanded upon in a separate, standalone release.
If you still get your friends together to enjoy the occasional competitive couch game, Sportsfriends is a must-have.
26. Earth Defense Force
Without diving into the well of Earth Defense Force sequels in order to come away with a specific entry to recommend above them all, we’re going to give you a general recommendation to play just one of the games in this series at some point.
Earth Defense Force is an indescribably over-the-top shooter that supports co-op play. Each game in the series requires you – and friends – to defeat waves of ‘50s sci-fi and anime-inspired enemies using a variety of absurd weapons.
It’s hard to think of another cooperative action game that embraces insanity quite like the EDF series. We guarantee you will never forget experiencing this franchise with your friends.
25. Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Mercenaries is another series that is generally underrated, but in the interest of staying on topic, let’s talk about the co-op mode in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
Imagine a slightly smaller and less open version of the Just Cause series that you can play in co-op, and you’ll understand what made this multiplayer mode so special. There’s nothing quite like bouncing around the game’s sizeable world and utilizing a series of incredible weapons and vehicles to destroy encampments and take out high-priority targets.
The idea of true co-op in an open-world game was pretty ambitious at the time of Mercenaries 2’s release, and we still can’t think of many games that utilize that concept as well as Mercenaries 2.
24. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Metal Gear Solid 4 wasn’t the first Metal Gear game to utilize an online mode, but its take on multiplayer is the best that we’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
First off, MGS4 combat worked surprisingly well even in basic deathmatch modes. However, what truly sets MGS4 apart is the way that it allowed players to customize their characters. Not only could you outfit yourself with clothes that could genuinely provide organic camouflage in certain areas of the map, but you could even unlock unique skills like “Instructor” that let you oversee the training of new players.
Unfortunately, MGS4’s online play was eventually ruined by hackers. Given the current state of the MGS franchise, we also doubt that we’ll ever see a mode like this ever again.
23. Natural Selection 2
Natural Selection 2 was one of those games that occasionally came up in conversations around the time of its release, but it’s not a game that many people seem to have actually played. If you are one of those gamers who has heard of this title and hasn’t tried it, we recommend you do so as soon as possible.
If you’re not familiar with Natural Selection 2, the first thing you need to know is that the game allows you to play one of three roles. You can be a human soldier, an agile alien, or a commander who views the multiplayer map from above and helps his or her team win by issuing orders, researching technology, and deploying resources.
That makes Natural Selection 2 one of the few games to successfully combine the RTS and FPS genres. Even better, the developers have historically been quite active in terms of updates.
22. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
Crystal Chronicles is perhaps best remembered as the game that required players to use multiple Game Boy Advances and link cables in order to properly utilize this GameCube title’s multiplayer mode.
While many people rightfully criticize Crystal Chronicles‘ absurd hardware requirements, the game itself has been widely praised by those who were fortunate enough to play its multiplayer mode in the intended way. Crystal Chronicles applies many familiar Final Fantasy mechanics and design elements to a slightly more action-oriented RPG experience.
It’s tough to imagine the modern gamer who would be able to assemble all the hardware pieces required to play this game in its optimal format, but we would love to see another title explore Crystal Chronicles‘ gameplay in a slightly more traditional way.
Windjammers has actually drawn some more attention in recent years due to the game’s re-release on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, but there are still too few gamers who know about this true gem.
The game has players compete in a fictional, arcade-style sport that most closely resembles air hockey. By utilizing a deep, but simple to learn, series of shots and defensive strategies, Windjammers nails that “easy to learn, tough to master” style of gameplay that we rarely see in sports titles. Nearly every Windjammers match is a nail-biting rush of adrenaline.
This game was tragically overlooked when it was released in 1994, but we remain hopeful it will one day attract the following it deserves.
20. War of the Monsters
War of the Monsters proved to be a surprise hit when it was released in 2003, but it seems that many people have either forgotten about this game or just haven’t found a reason to mention it that often in recent years.
While War of the Monsters’ single-player tribute to the monster films of the ‘50s was the star of this show, the game’s multiplayer mode proved to be a shockingly good time. It allowed players to pick their favorite monsters and duke it out across destructible environments. One of the mode’s best features was a dynamic split-screen camera that split the screen when players were divided and then combined their halves of the TV when they were close enough to battle.
This game deserves a remake, but the original is still a good time if you can get your hands on it.
19. Crimson Skies
Yet another game on this list that is perpetually underrated, Crimson Skies for the Xbox was an Indiana Jones-style adventure featuring an alternate history in which society has taken to the skies. It’s quite simply one of the best games ever made in the eyes of many of its fans.
The game’s multiplayer was also quite good. Plane-based multiplayer battles can sometimes devolve into everyone circling around each other, but Crimson Skies‘ arcade-like movement system meant that dogfights felt appropriately tense. It certainly didn’t hurt that the game’s respectable selection of planes accommodated a variety of playstyles.
Crimson Skies’ incredibly poor sales mean that we’ll probably never get a sequel or remake to this game. If we do, though, then its multiplayer mode must return.
18. Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force
The geniuses at Raven Software are responsible for some of the best games ever made, but in terms of multiplayer, Elite Force might be their best work.
Elite Force launched with a stunning 32-player multiplayer mode to compliment the game’s exceptional single-player campaign. The shooting is spectacular, but what really sells the multiplayer is the additional variants introduced in the game’s first expansion pack. From a mode that sees one player control a Borg who is trying to assimilate everyone else to a disintegration mode that arms players with a slow-firing (but devastating) weapon, Elite Force offered so many creative options.
The bad news is that Elite Force is not currently available through any digital retail platforms due to apparent licensing issues.
17. Crash Team Racing
There’s some room for debate regarding whether or not Crash Team Racing is really underrated. The game sold quite well, is generally well-remembered, and is part of a very popular franchise.
Still, we can’t help but feel that not enough people really got to experience this game’s brilliant multiplayer races. While CTR certainly borrowed quite liberally from the Mario Kart series, it also featured the kind of complex maps and innovative weapons that we wouldn’t see from the Mario Kart series for quite some time.
Truth be told, if you told us that you genuinely preferred CTR to the beloved Mario Kart 64, we’d be pretty tempted to agree with you.
16. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$!
This is another tricky entry to justify simply because WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$! was actually well-received at the time of its release. However, the game has all but vanished from memory except for those who played it.
While most of Mega Party’s multiplayer brilliance stems from the fun of those classic WarioWare minigames, this title also features a few special modes designed to take advantage of a party atmosphere. For instance, Wario’s Outta My Way saw one player try to complete a minigame while the other players performed on-screen actions designed to distract them. Orbulon All For One forced players to complete minigames in the dark while another player shone a light on the important areas.
While not the last WarioWare game to feature multiplayer, no other game in the series did it as well as this one.
15. ChuChu Rocket!
Part of the reason why the Dreamcast is such a beloved system is that it played host to quite a few unique games. Sega used the Dreamcast to see whether a series of bold concepts were viable or just pipe dreams. Few games exemplify that philosophy better than ChuChu Rocket!
ChuChu Rocket! was developed, in part, to test the online functionality of the Dreamcast so that Sega could get Phantasy Star Online working properly and because the Sonic Team wanted to see if they could get 100 character sprites to move on-screen at once. While largely a technological test tube, ChuChu Rocket’s incredibly simple concept – you and other players lay down arrows to guide mice into color-matched homes – is addictive.
ChuChu Rocket! was briefly released on iOS and Android, but now that those ports are no longer available, it’s hard to find a good non-Dreamcast copy of this game.
14. Typing of the Dead: Overkill
Typing of the Dead features one of the most bizarre premises we’ve ever seen in a video game. It essentially plays just like the old light gun House of the Dead games, but instead of shooting at zombies, you’re required to type out the words that appear under the undead in order to kill them. It’s basically the world’s most violent typing tutor. Typing of the Dead: Overkill retains that bizarre concept but paints a thick coat of grindhouse aesthetics on top of the whole affair.
Regardless, that sweep typing gameplay remains largely unaltered. It’s oddly entertaining to bring a partner along and duel to see who is the best typist of them all. It might sound like an odd cooperative/competitive experience, but you’d be amazed at how fierce the competition for best typist becomes.
13. Sega Soccer Slam
If there’s one thing we love, it’s wacky sports games. Titles like NBA Jam and Mutant League Football capture all of the fun of sports simulators but are largely free of the sometimes crippling realism.
While such titles have a tendency to be underrated, Sega Soccer Slam has managed to go almost entirely unnoticed over the years despite being one of the most entertaining arcade-style sports games ever made. This 3v3 take on soccer features wacky characters and ridiculous special power shots, but what really makes it special are the surprisingly solid mechanics that can hook any player in minutes regardless of whether or not they are a sports fan.
We highly doubt that this game will ever get a sequel or reboot, so try to find a copy for Xbox, GameCube, or PS2.
12. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is another game that might be too popular to be considered underrated. However, the game gets a nod here just because we get the impression that not nearly enough people played this title’s many excellent multiplayer modes.
RDR worked surprisingly well as a standard deathmatch game, but it really shone in specialty modes like Race, Stronghold, or even the cooperative horde mode added to the game by the brilliant Undead Nightmare expansion. The game’s free roam options may have been bare bones, but the pre-set multiplayer modes were almost universally entertaining.
We’re not entirely sure why more people didn’t give this game’s multiplayer a chance, but it certainly stands the test of time.
11. Pikmin 3
Some of the best cooperative add-on modes are able to play off of a core aspect of the “main game” in order to offer an experience that is both familiar but impossible to achieve without the presence of multiplayer players. It’s a tricky concept, but if you ever want to experience the virtues of that approach, play Pikmin 3’s co-op modes.
Pikmin 3’s main cooperative modes retain the fundamental goals of Pikmin campaigns but are designed in such a way as to ensure that only players who are able to truly work together will ever be able to beat them. Of course, you could also just play the incredibly fun Bingo Battle mode that requires you to find items to place on a randomly generated board so that you’re the first to score four in a row. It’s much more fun than it sounds.
10. Mass Effect 3
There’s a very good reason why Mass Effect 3 is remembered by most people for its controversial ending. Some go so far as to say that Mass Effect 3’s finale has forever tainted the legacy of the franchise. We also can’t help but feel that all the noise the game’s conclusion generated prevented many Mass Effect 3 owners from realizing they had a pretty great multiplayer game in their collection.
While Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer was little more than a horde mode, it altered the horde mode formula just enough to incorporate elements unique to the Mass Effect franchise. For instance, players had to complete a randomized objective at the start of certain waves that required all party members to prove they were truly able to work together and not just kill the most enemies.
Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer honestly does a better job of exemplifying the series’ best gameplay attributes more than many of the story missions do.
9. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Spies vs. Mercs. Either you know it, love it, and lost many hours of your life to it, or you haven’t a clue what we’re talking about. Even if you belong to the former group, though, you might not know that Spies vs. Mercs made its triumphant return in the stellar Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
Spies vs. Mercs sees one team assume the role of spies and the other play mercenaries. For spies, the game plays out much like a traditional game of Splinter Cell. Mercs, however, play the game via a first-person view that limits their range of sight. The trade-off is that mercs are heavily armed while spies must rely largely on gadgets and guile to complete objectives.
It’s an astonishingly realized gimmick that is way more balanced than it conceptually has any right to be. The fact that Splinter Cell: Blacklist also features excellent co-op modes is just the icing on the cake.
8. Star Fox Assault
Star Fox: Assault was a largely disappointing attempt to freshen up the Star Fox formula that ultimately failed to recapture the fun of the original titles. However, it also happened to feature a multiplayer mode that tragically got dragged down with the rest of the game.
While not much more than a simple competitive shooter-style battle, Star Fox Assault brilliantly combined on-foot shooting with vehicular action – featuring multiple types of vehicles – to offer a competitive experience that was chaotic, to say the least. Games often saw players bounce between vehicle and battle on foot as they desperately tried to get those last few kills.
Supposedly, Star Fox Assault began its life as a multiplayer-only title. We kind of wish that the developers had stuck with that concept and abandoned the game’s forgettable single-player offerings.
7. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory boasts the strangest origin story of any game on this list. Originally designed to be an expansion pack to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, it was later determined that it was good enough to warrant a standalone release. However, when developer Splash Damage (the folks responsible for Brink) encountered problems with the single-player campaign, the studio decided to just release the multiplayer as a freeware game.
We’re glad Splash Damage did what was necessary to get this game out into the world because it is a brilliant piece of multiplayer game design. In fact, Enemy Territory‘s use of class-based teamwork is still one of the best examples of that concept we’ve ever seen. While Enemy Territory still feels like a deathmatch game of its era (2003), the ways in which it weaves together the abilities of various classes is just beautiful. This game isn’t talked about as much as classic titles like Unreal Tournament, Quake III, and Halo, but it’s one of the best.
6. Power Stone 2
“What are you talking about?” says someone who doesn’t understand just how obscure Power Stone 2 is. “Everyone loves Power Stone 2!”
Everyone who played Power Stone 2 may love it, but not many people got to play the game in the first place. This 2000 Dreamcast title featured Smash Bros.-esque battles across dynamic levels that would change as the battle waged on. While that Smash Bros. comparison gives you a good idea of the kind of fun that Power Stone offers, it doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s because Power Stone 2’s included certain features that have never really been replicated. For instance, some levels in the game featured bosses that required players to temporarily cooperate – or not – in order to defeat the looming shared foe.
Aside from an arcade release in Japan and a PlayStation Portable port, the only way to play Power Stone 2 is on the Dreamcast. What we’re trying to tell you here is that you should really own a Dreamcast.
5. The Warriors
We would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone at Rockstar Games suggested that the company should develop a game based on a largely obscure ‘70s cult classic movie. It’s not the kind of project that would get pitched – or greenlit – at most major studios today.
While The Warriors sold reasonably well, its multiplayer options were tragically underrated. That’s especially true of the game’s co-op mode, which let two players battle their way through the game’s surprisingly lengthy and varied campaign.
The truth of the matter is that such co-op brawler titles just aren’t nearly as common as they used to be (or should be). If you love games like the old Ninja Turtles SNES titles, Final Fight, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Warriors needs to be on your must-play list.
4. Grand Theft Auto IV
The final Rockstar game on this list is another title that is somewhat difficult to classify as underrated. After all, GTA IV sold just under 4 million copies in under 24 hours and many of the people who eventually bought the game did try out the multiplayer at some point.
In terms of legacy, though, the success of GTA V’s multiplayer has undermined the quality of GTA IV’s multiplayer. We respect what Rockstar has done with GTA V, but the truth is that there are some GTA IV multiplayer modes that we’d choose to play over GTA Online on most days. That’s especially true of the brilliant Cops and Crooks mode, in which a team of cops pursued a team of crooks across GTA IV’s incredibly designed city as the crooks tried to reach an escape point.
GTA IV’s pre-set gameplay modes and its smaller – but customizable – lobbies may appear technically inferior to what GTA V offers, but we believe that both games multiplayer offerings are different enough to be worthy of co-existence.
3. Driver: San Francisco
At this point, there is a nearly 0% chance that Driver: San Francisco’s multiplayer will ever receive the mass love that it deserves. Within the reasonable relativity of any discussion concerning video games, we’d have to classify that realization as a tragedy.
Driver: San Francisco featured some of the most creative multiplayer modes ever seen in a driving game – few boil down to simple racing. Tag, for instance, was a high-speed version of the playground classic across an open-world city. Blitz was a driving game take on traditional base defense modes that required you to infiltrate an opponents scoring zone. Even the game’s single-player challenge mode – in which you had to avoid vehicles randomly tossed at you while pursuing a target – could be turned into a competition.
Given the rather stale state of the driving game genre, we don’t know if we’re ever going to get another multiplayer driving game quite as inventive as this one.
2. Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Let’s just skip past trying to explain how this brilliant South Park-like parody of mascot platformers came to be and get right into why you missed out if you never played Conker’s multiplayer.
None of Conker’s seven multiplayer modes were the same. Raptor was a surprisingly deep caveman vs. dinosaurs game that required players to master two very different playstyles. War was a team deathmatch game with several twists involving chemical weapons. Heist had everyone compete for a bag of money at the center of the map.
You just never see modern games that boast such a variety of multiplayer options out of the box, and we haven’t even taken a dive into the various ways that the game allowed you to customize every mode. Tragically, someone decided to turn Bad Fur Day’s brilliant multiplayer modes into a more generic online shooter by the time that the game was ported over to Xbox. As such, you need to dig out your N64 if you want to play this game’s classic multiplayer.
1. The Last of Us
To this day, we don’t understand how The Last of Us didn’t accidentally become a multiplayer sensation. Over 17 million copies of The Last of Us have been sold across PlayStation 3 and 4, but we’re willing to bet that only a fraction of those players have ever taken the game’s multiplayer for a spin despite the fact that you can beat the single-player game in about 10 hours.
The Last of Us’ brilliant multiplayer modes inject single-player elements like crafting and survival gameplay into various competitive modes. Because health is limited and death often comes quickly, a competitive Last of Us match often feels spiritually closer to Rainbow Six than an Uncharted game. Victory in this game is awarded to those who truly learn to work as a team as well as players who have mastered the various in-game items and perk combinations.
There’s never been a multiplayer mode in a single-player-oriented game that has done a better job of recreating every gameplay element that makes the single-player game so notable. The Last of Us offers some of the best competitive matches you’ll ever experience in a video game. Considering that there’s a very good chance this it’s sitting on your shelf right now, we highly recommend you give this game’s multiplayer a shot.